A Holocaust survivor’s novelistic account of persevering through the horrendous firebombing of her hometown of Hamburg, Germany.
Finely delineated details distinguish this memoir by Hamburg native Ingram, now an artist living in Washington, D.C. At age 8, in the summer of 1943, the author had to grow up fast: With her father coerced into working for the Luftwaffe in Belgium (he was beaten and pressured to divorce his Jewish wife), the author narrowly saved her mother from committing suicide by gassing herself in the apartment’s oven. Her mother was in despair after having received their deportation notice, and she was still reeling from the earlier deportations of her nearest relatives to occupied Russia. Almost immediately, however, the bombs began to drop around the neighborhood, and their apartment building crumbled, forcing mother and daughter to take to the streets to find safety. Here, Ingram inserts some staggering details, such as her mother’s hostile confrontation with the block’s air-raid shelter warden, who refused admittance to Jews and their rejection as well by the church. Having to keep moving through the scene of incendiary horror probably saved them. For the next 18 months, they managed to hide out on a nearby farm owned by a rather objectionable woman, Frau Pimber, who had earlier been entrusted with the care of Ingram’s middle sister, Helga, graced with “Aryan” looks, fair hair and eyes. A closing chapter encapsulates the harrowing survival tale of a youth Ingram met at the Blankenese refugee school who had been nearly worked to death at a slave-labor camp run by the “Cannon King,” Alfried Krupp.
A well-honed tale of momentous courage and strength.